Penguins rally, prevail in shootout
By Karen Price
Thursday, February 15, 2007
For the first few months of the season, the Penguins couldn't win in a shootout.
Now, after they beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-4, on Wednesday night for their fourth straight shootout win, it hardly seems possible that in mid-January they were 1-5 in shootouts.
But when a team's as hot as the Penguins are right now, they just seem to find ways to win that eluded them in the past.
"We're definitely building some character," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "(Last night) was a classic example. We don't panic, and we find a way to win. When you're on a roll like this, bounces seems to go your way. Success breeds success, I guess."
Erik Christensen and Evgeni Malkin both scored on Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in the shootout, and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made both saves, plus 24 in regulation and overtime. The game may not have been Fleury's strongest through 60 minutes, but he kicked off overtime with a fantastic stop on Blackhawks leading scorer Martin Havlat.
"(Overtime) is difficult sometimes when you're not playing well," Fleury said. "You get in there, it's like a second chance. You have to refocus. That's what I've learned."
The Penguins (30-17-9) are 12-0-2 in their last 14 games, including two shootout wins and one in overtime win in their last three games. They are tied with the Ottawa Senators, who also won last night, for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points.
A minute after Tuomo Ruutu outskated his older brother, Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu, to put the Blackhawks ahead, 4-3, Malkin scored his 28th goal of the season to tie it back up, 4-4.
After Crosby took the initial shot, Malkin got the rebound and then got his own rebound after the puck popped out at the right corner. Malkin got his stick on it as he was passing by to get the Penguins to overtime.
Malkin's goal appeased the fans at Mellon Arena, who had been booing in protest because Martin Lapointe, who assisted on Ruutu's goal, appeared to have come on the ice too soon to give the Blackhawks too many men on the ice. There was no penalty called.
Ryan Malone started the game back on the top line after being moved off it on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But in the third period, coach Michel Therrien moved Malone to the second line with Jordan Staal in the middle and brought Malkin up to play on the left wing with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi.
Putting the trio back together for the first time in a month paid off.
"It was like poker, and we were going all in," Therrien said.
Although Crosby had an assist in the game, his goal drought is now at a career-high eight games.
The Penguins led, 3-1, with five minutes left in the second period on a goal by Ronald Petrovicky, an unassisted shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot and a goal from Michel Ouellet. Patrick Sharp pulled the Blackhawks within one with less than two minutes left in the second period, and Martin St. Pierre tied it two minutes into the third on a rebound.
The Penguins were 0 for 5 on the power play and allowed a shorthanded goal.